Lynchburg Wins Game One Behind Third Straight Complete Game Pitching Effort

Zack Potts tossed the third straight complete game for Lynchburg to help guide the Hornets to a 5-2 win over Johns Hopkins in the first game of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship final series. Photo Credit: Caroline Gerke, Lynchburg
Zack Potts tossed the third straight complete game for Lynchburg to help guide the Hornets to a 5-2 win over Johns Hopkins in the first game of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship final series. Photo Credit: Caroline Gerke, Lynchburg

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa --- Zack Potts became the third straight University of Lynchburg starter to go the distance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday afternoon as he kept top-seeded Johns Hopkins University's offense in check on the way to a 5-2 victory in game one of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship final series on PG Cares Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The victory puts the Hornets (47-7) one win away from claiming the NCAA title. They must pick up one more win over the Blue Jays (47-7) in one of a possible two-game set on Thursday. The first contest is slated for 12:00 p.m. ET. If Lynchburg wins, the tournament is over and the trophy heads back to the Hill City. If JHU earns the "W" in game one, then the second game would be conducted roughly 30-45 minutes after the first in a winner-take-all championship showdown. Be sure to watch live on

Potts sailed through the first seven innings on the way to improving to 13-0. He faced just 25 batters during that 21-out span,  allowing only three hits without a walk and one strikeout. He added one more punchout over the final two frames.

Those last two innings were a bit nervy for the Lynchburg faithful. The two clubs combined for seven errors in total with four by the Hornets including three contributing to the Blue Jays two runs in the eighth and ninth innings. JHU loaded the bases each time, but Potts and the defense came up with the plays when needed to shut the door and put Lynchburg one win away from the program's first national championship.


Potts may be the lone arm on Lynchburg's roster unavailable for what could be a very busy Thursday. Three straight complete games leaves all members of the bullpen fresh and ready if called upon to perform on the national stage.

Lynchburg's offense has certainly played a part in that effort, with the Hornets now out-scoring their opponents, 27-12, in Iowa. Third baseman Gavin Collins smacked a pair of run-scoring singles as part of a 2-for-5 day at the dish. First baseman Eric Hiett also registered two hits -- plus a walk -- including a two-run double. Left fielder Avery Neaves doubled and scored two runs, while shortstop Brandon Garcia walked twice and scored a run while flashing some serious leather in the field.

Kieren Collins started and took the loss for Johns Hopkins, falling to 6-1 on the season. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts over 6.0 innings. He was one of five Blue Jays to take the Hill, leaving their pitching depth certainly more in question for Thursday's action when factoring in they played one more game than Lynchburg to get to the final series.

Lynchburg wasted no time getting things started with two runs in the top of the first inning. Garcia led off with a walk. With one down, both Neaves and designated hitter Sean Pokorak were hit by pitches from Kieren Collins to load the bases. Hiett followed with a two-run double to left, spotting Potts with an early 2-0 lead after a half-inning of play.

The Hornets tacked on single runs in the fifth, seventh, and eighth innings. Gavin Collins came through with the RBI hit in the fifth, bringing around Jones with a single through the left side for a 3-0 lead.

That advantage increased to four runs in the seventh with Collins involved yet again. His single to right-center scored Hiett for a 4-0 lead through 6.5 frames.

In the eighth inning, Lynchburg generated its run on the legs of Carrson Atkins. The Hornets centerfielder broke for third base on a steal attempt, with the throw getting away from the third baseman to allow Atkins to trot home for a 5-0 lead.

While not mathematically needed, those extra two insurance runs certainly helped calm some nerves with Hopkins loading the bases in the final two innings. They plated their first run of the game in the eighth inning. Two singles by right fielder Sam Browning and first baseman Dillon Souvignier surrounded an error that allowed left fielder Matthew Cooper to reach, loading the bases for third baseman Shawn Steuerer. He hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Browning. Potts got catcher Sam Frank to ground to Collins at third to end the threat.

In the ninth inning, a pair of Lynchburg throwing errors gave Hopkins two additional outs. Centerfielder Tripp Myers reached on one miscue to start the inning, while DH Caleb Cyr moved him to third with a single through the right side. Second baseman James Stevens drove in Myers with a sac fly to to right. The threat, however, was not over with shortstop Dylan Whitney singling and Browning reaching via fielder's choice following a throwing error on a force-play attempt at second.

With the bases loaded, Potts got Cooper to fly out to shallow center for the second out after Garcia ranged to no-man's land to squeeze the popper. Another Potts-induced pop-up ended the contest as defensive replacement Ryan Long caught the final out at first base on Souvignier's high infield fly.